Finishing kick is goal for Koch

Ravens Notebook

September 16, 2006|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,Sun reporter

Sam Koch refused to take the bait.

Offered a chance to blame the humidity, first-game jitters or the responsibilities loaded onto his shoulders, the rookie punter declined to make any excuses for his mixed debut in the Ravens' 27-0 rout of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday.

"I was put on this team to help out in any way possible, whether that was doing everything all day, every day," Koch said. "That's what I've got to do."

Koch's statistics were decent. The sixth-round pick averaged 47 yards per punt with two kicks going 56 and 51 yards. His average is the second-best mark in the AFC and seventh-best in the NFL.

But Koch missed an opportunity to pin the Buccaneers deep in their territory when the 51-yard punt bounced into the end zone. And his net average of 35.8 yards is tied for ninth in the AFC and tied for 17th in the league.

Also, Koch, who is the holder for kicker Matt Stover and also handles kickoffs, did not send a kickoff into the end zone in six attempts - something he had been doing with some regularity during the preseason.

"I thought my first kickoff and my first punt were good," he said. "After that, I thought it was decent, but not up to par as far as what I thought. I ended up with a decent average, but not the greatest net average. But it was a good first game to get it out there and get it underneath my belt."

While pointing out that Koch is in his first season, special teams coordinator Frank Gansz Jr. said his expectations for Koch are high.

"I was pleased, but he's got to get better," Gansz said. "There are some things that he's definitely got to get better at, and it's a long season for him."

Bumps and bruises

All 10 players - including running back Jamal Lewis (hip), tight ends Todd Heap (back) and Daniel Wilcox (back), center Mike Flynn (ankle), safety Ed Reed (thigh) and kicker Matt Stover (back) - listed on the Ravens' injury report as questionable on Thursday were upgraded to probable yesterday for tomorrow's home opener against the Oakland Raiders.

Oakland offensive tackle Robert Gallery (calf) will miss the game. Cornerbacks Nnamdi Asomugha (foot) and Chris Carr (calf) and defensive end Kevin Huntley (foot) are questionable.

Wrong direction

The Raiders have not fared well on the East Coast, compiling a 2-5 record during the past two seasons.

Throw in a short week after losing, 27-0, to the San Diego Chargers on Monday night, and it would seem that the Ravens have a distinct advantage. Right, coach Brian Billick?

"We all have to travel in some form or fashion," Billick said. "Planes go pretty fast. Sitting on an airplane for five or six hours isn't all that tough. We've had to do it going the other way, and we're certainly not looking at that as an advantage."

Tough grader

Linebacker Bart Scott is his own worst critic. After his five-tackle, two-sack performance, which included a tipped pass intercepted by defensive tackle Haloti Ngata in Tampa, Scott would give himself a grade of only C-plus.

"There's a certain way you have to approach the game, and anything short of perfect is not an A," he said. "So you've got to start with a B, and I missed some plays. I missed a tackle out there, so that pushed me down to a B-minus. So I ended up around a C-plus. There's a lot of room for improvement. Hopefully, I can take the next step this week."

End zone

Lewis is 4 yards shy of becoming the franchise's all-time leader in combined yardage. Lewis, who has 7,997 yards, trails return specialist and wide receiver Jermaine Lewis. ... Raiders coach Art Shell was a two-time All-America offensive tackle at the former Maryland State College, which is now UMES. "I've got a lot of friends and fellow alumni from that area," he said. "As a matter of fact, some of them came out to the game this past Monday night, and I'm disappointed that we didn't give them anything to be happy about." ... NFL commissioner Roger Goodell visited the team's facility in Owings Mills yesterday as part of his plan to meet with officials of all 32 teams.

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